A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.
This trap bridges the more arbitrary, metagamey material of earlier in the week and our regular trap content. It takes place in a kobold warren, thieves’ guild, spy organisation’s base, or other suitable den of sneakiness.
The PCs’ goals require them to explore a section of the complex which is dedicated to showcasing traps. Laid out in a linear sequence are a series of rooms, and in each, the PCs find a different mechanical trap – all with clear instructions for how it works and how to bypass it printed on the door leading in, and all deactivated by some master switch. Careful examination of the traps indicates that they do indeed function as advertised, but are genuinely disarmed, and that the master switch for each trap is further into the complex – a cable in the walls and floor can be traced running further in, but it is on a hair trigger and interfering with it in any way will set off all the traps. (This cable should only be found through displays of truly extraordinary skill.) Further, once active, the traps can only be deactivated manually and individually – the override switch removes a series of chocks stopping the mechanisms from moving, but there’s no way to replace them all automatically.
Finally the PCs reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, and come across a door labelled “Trap Gallery Master Control Switch”. Opening the door reveals a room with periscopic (or magical) views into each trap chamber, and a big lever labelled “Trap Activation”. If the PCs are tracing the master control cable it does indeed lead directlyunder this door, and if the door is open they can see that it leads towards the lever… but then loops around a pulley and heads back to the door frame.
The label “Trap Gallery Master Control Switch” is not saying what’s behind the door – it’s explaining that that the door is the Trap Gallery Master Control Switch – and opening the door causes all the traps to become active.
To get back out, the PCs will have to disarm all the traps they have just passed. The fact that the mechanisms include provision for a master override allows you to give them a small bonus on their rolls… and if they can successfully remember the instructions for how each trap worked, which were on the outside of the doors which are now at the opposite end of each room, you can give them a larger bonus. (This might be an occasion for the use of our upcoming supplement on memory in RPGs.)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our April Fool’s Week traps! Let us know in the comments.